Senior European Union officials announced Sunday that the bloc will send “rapid” assistance to help India combat its latest, devastating coronavirus outbreak. On Friday, India set a world record for the number of new coronavirus cases reported in a single day, with more than 330,000 new infections.
The Indian Health Ministry said Friday that there have been 189,544 coronavirus deaths in the country, but health experts around the world believe the true death count is much higher.
In a tweet on Sunday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “alarmed” by the worsening pandemic in India and announced that EU member states would be ”pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance.” Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner for crisis management, said on Twitter that those resources would include oxygen and medicine.
Also on Sunday, Emily Horne, a National Security Council spokesperson, said the U.S. would be sending aid to India as well, including therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment. The U.S. will also help India ramp up its vaccination efforts, Horne said.
In recent days, grim images from the frontlines of India’s coronavirus crisis have gone viral, including photos of overrun hospitals and overwhelmed crematoriums running out of room to incinerate the dead.
Meanwhile, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is stifling public criticism of its response. Twitter submitted to pressure and blocked 52 tweets criticizing Indian leadership, BuzzFeed News reported Saturday, including tweets from public officials who condemned the prime minister for downplaying the seriousness of the virus. (In a statement to BuzzFeed, Twitter said that users whose tweets were blocked were told that the company was complying with an order from the Indian government.)
One critical post that Twitter blocked compared Modi to Nero, the brutal Roman tyrant. The tweet, from Moloy Ghatak, the minister of labor in West Bengal, said that the country will never forgive Modi “for underplaying the corona situation in the country and letting so many people die due to mismanagement.”
Modi has faced criticism for continuing to host and permit large political and religious events, contrary to health guidance.
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